For many people, the beach is their happy place! Who doesn’t love sitting in the sun, feeling the soft sand beneath their feet, and hearing the laughter of children running into the surf? But sitting on most beach chairs? Not so comfortable!
Leslie Hsu was a successful handbag designer, whose happy place was definitely the beach. Hsu and her husband, Greg, often took their children to the beach for days of family fun. One day, Hsu collapsed into her uncomfortable and not-very-pretty chair, and remarked to Greg that someone should design a more comfortable and beautiful beach chair. As an experienced designer and brand developer, Hsu decided that someone was her!
Hsu admits that she didn’t have any practical skill in designing a chair, however. She partnered with Fuseproject, the industrial design firm founded by Yves Behar, which has designed products for companies such as Herman Miller, Prada, and Samsung. The chairs are colorful and sturdy, easy to fold and unfold and have built-in towel hocks on the back. A variety of attachments, such as cupholder, dry bag and sun shade are available.
Mimi MacLean, in an article onon May 11, 2021, noted that Sunflow was officially launched in the summer of 2020 when the Covid pandemic was heating up. But Hsu proved that with perseverance, design expertise and a strong business plan, you can still launch a successful company during a pandemic. Sunflow grew to a seven-figure business in less than a year with only three full-time employees. For the first two years of developing the business, Hsu and Greg used their own money, and then pitched the idea to angel investors, raising a million dollars. Family, friends and additional angel investors added another two million to the pot.
Originally the plan for growing the business involved PR events, giveaways, etc. but the pandemic forced a direct-to-consumer approach, which has worked well.
Hsu says the journey in establishing and running Sunflow has been hectic and lots of hard work. But it has definitely been worth it. Her advice to anyone thinking of establishing their own business is to dream big, network, and to avoid micro-managing. Find the most skilled people you can, and let them do their jobs. Hsu has definitely helped make the beach a very happy place.